A Saturday Hat Trick for Evan Trommer; Cara Yarusso Heading to Vegas…Twice; Matthew Baca Continues Big Rookie Year (Weekend Recap August 9-11)

It was the weekend after the Spa & Surf Showdown…but any chance of a letdown in excitement was vanquished by some particularly thrilling finishes as well as some impressive feats of handicapping strength and consistency.

Temecula, Calif. auto dealership executive Mike Caposio put himself in the driver’s seat of Friday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Pick & Pray with a 19-1 winner in the second of 10 contest races.

But no amount of fast talking by Caposio could shake off Howard Welsh.

The two were just 80 cents apart heading into the final contest race, the 5th at Woodbine, and it turned out that the best offense for Caposio was a good defense. They were both on the same 8-1 shot (a second-place finisher) in that last race, which blocked Welsh from the top spot. Caposio (2 wins, 3 places) earned first-place money of $4,371 in a game that closed with a purse of $8,743. Welsh had to settle for second, but he certainly didn’t have a case of buyer’s remorse, having received $1,748 for his $190 entry fee.

Cara Yarusso and Fred Speck Jr. each had that same 19-1 shot (Special Risk, $41.80, in the 7th at Monmouth) plus a 9-1 shot early on to boot. That put both of them in good shape for the balance of Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Yarusso added three more firsts and a second…Speck had a win and two places after those two early-tourney hits. Both will now be heading to the NHC for the low, low price of $75.

Yarusso wasn’t done, though, Clearly feeling that February was too long to wait for a Vegas excursion, the Minnesotan entered Sunday’s Orleans Fall Classic entry-only qualifier. Did Yarusso succeed?

You betcha! Here she finished ahead of all but Steven Turner and both received $500 entries to the Fall Classic in October, Good deal!

Yarusso wasn’t the only player who displayed prowess on multiple days. So did Evan Trommer, who did most of his damage on Saturday—and a lot of damage it was!

Trommer hit three of the last four contest races en route to a 6-win, 1-place day that took top honors—and the $8,750 that went with it in Saturday’s live-format, $17,500 Guaranteed tourney.

Those same picks also earned Trommer a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry in Saturday’s live-format Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Trommer then added a seventh winner—and $11.00 to his score—in Saturday’s regular NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Also winning an NHC was runner up Matthew Baca, who is enjoying a fine rookie season on the NHC Tour.

Baca was fifth on the NHC Rookie Leaderboard as of the most recent update (July 26). The runner up finish to Trommer will add some valuable Tour points to Baca’s total in the race for year-end rookie bonus money.

As for Trommer, Saturday brought an NHC seat, a BCBC entry and $8,750 in cash. Nice work if you can get it. And Sunday brought something nice too.

Trommer added another $2,830 to his coffers by virtue of finishing second to Richard Grose in Sunday’s $10,000 Guaranteed tourney, which closed with a pot of $14,151. Missourian Grose took the top prize of $6,368 by “showing us” two wins and four places.

Getting back to Saturday action, Mr. Lindsay Hurst and Thomas Bryan each posted five winners and two runners up.

That did the trick for both in Saturday’s Orleans Fall Classic qualifier. Hurst and Bryan each get $500 entries plus another $500 for their travel to The Orleans in October.

James Morgan (another impressive NHC Tour rookie) had a slow beginning but a fast finish in Saturday’s Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge qualifier.

It required just a $57.50 score to take this one, and Morgan picked up $35.90 of his total in the third-to-last and second-to-last tourney races. A win is a win is a win, though, and Morgan will be headed to Keeneland on October 13 with a paid-up $3,000 entry in his pocket, plus $500 to cover his travel expenses to Big Blue Nation.

Back over at HorsePlayers, Peter Strauss found that “place” was a good place to be in Saturday’s regular Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier.

It’s not that Strauss didn’t pick any winners…he had four of them…but none paid more than $6.80. Three of his four place collections, however, returned $21.60, $12.00 and $11.80—and that made the difference in his $25.20 victory that earned him the coveted $10,000 BCBC entry in the Saturday Pick & Pray.

Taking a deeper dive into Sunday’s featured play, Michael Anello (5 wins, 1 place for the high score of the day), Stephen Diaz (3 wins, 1 place) and “Rookie” James Morgan (5 wins, 1 place) all had Saratoga 10th race long shot winner Wild Weekend ($32.80, $15.20)…

…and that led all three to $1,000 packages to the August 24 Monmouth Super NHC/BCC qualifier at the Jersey Shore.

Wild Weekend made for a winning weekend for Ryan Mueller.

Mueller led the way with 3 wins and 2 places in Sunday’s qualifier to the Sept. 21-22 The BIG One at Laurel. Also en route to the land of crabcakes will be runner up David McCarty (5 wins, 3 places). McCarty didn’t have Wild Weekend, but he made collections in the first six tourney races, then held on to edge third-place finisher Joseph Calvo by 20 cents for the second available all-inclusive package.

Our second Keeneland qualifier of the weekend was a Low Ratio, entry-only affair.

Here it was Christopher Podratz who trounced his opponents by more than doubling his nearest rival’s score thanks to six winners. Podratz earns a $3,000 entry to Keeneland where he hopes that six more winners are in his future.

One winner is all it took for Donald Markwardt in our $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney.

That exacta winner, which paid $126.50 for a dollar in the 10th at Saratoga (the Wild Weekend race) meant a winner’s share of $1,084 to Markwardt in a game that finished up with a total purse of $1,548.

No one picked more winners in featured-tourney play this weekend than Thomas Olsen.

Olsen had seven winners, plus a pair of places for good measure, to finish first in our last-chance qualifier to next Saturday’s Del Mar Pacific Classic Betting Challenge. Also coming away with $750 entries were runner up James Zaccagnino (3 wins, 2 places) and Ronald Peltz (3 wins, 1 place).

Here’s a look at Olsen’s seven-win, nine-collection scoresheet:

Frank Fosbre got hot late to take Sunday’s Pick 6 Jackpot tourney.

Once again, no one got all six races correct, so next week’s Jackpot will be $2,523. Entries are just $8 each.

Our first-chance/last-chance/only-chance (sounds like a Barry White song) qualifier to next Saturday’s Laurel Champions tournament had an interesting finish.

Two $300 entries to Laurel were at stake here. Bob Bandzwolek hit Landon ($19.80, $8.40) in the final contest race, the 10th at Ellis, to move himself up into the top spot. There was a tie for second—which normally would have called for the adjudication skills (such as they are) from the HorseTourneys stewards. However, the tie was between two Sean Nolan entries. So Nolan was granted the second entry…and after about 20 minutes of debate, our stewards—miffed that they had been cut out of the process—grudgingly announced that they concurred with our decision.

Nolan’s two entries shaded Michael Reynolds by a mere 20 cents. Nolan used the exact same picks in every race until that last one from Ellis, when he went with the 1 horse on one entry and the 12 on the other. Reynolds, meanwhile, opted for the 6 horse. None of the three won or ran second…so Nolan stayed in front of Reynolds and grabbed the second available $300 entry to Laurel (where two NHC seats, one BCBC entry and one entry to The BIG One will be available).

Over at HorsePlayers, Arkansas native Tanya Taylor decided to try her hand at our last-minute, $56 feeder to Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier.

Tanya Taylor

Taylor will often play in a featured event only if she wins an early-bird feeder to it, and here she finished a strong second to garner a $500 entry to the main event.

Then she put up three wins and four places to defeat Travis Foelsch by $4.20 and parlay her $56 initial investment into a $10,000 BCBC entry.

Small collections made a big difference for Taylor in this one. She caught a $6.00 place collection to grab first place and finish out her terrific day…and before that, she collected $2.40 to win and $2.40 to place on a 1-5 winner in the 11th at Monmouth that also more than represented the final difference between her and Foelsch.

Small prices (and small entry fees) can sometimes yield big prizes at HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers. Congratulations to those who shared in the winnings last weekend, and thanks to all for taking part in the fun. More featured action—including a last chance qualifier to Monmouth—is coming up next week. Good deal!